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Protecting yourself from HIV begins with understanding how the virus is spread. The virus can be passed in only certain ways:
During sex with a person infected with HIV
By sharing a contaminated needle, such as through illicit drug use.
From HIV mother to child either during pregnancy, labor or breastfeeding.
Through a contaminated blood transfusion
Donated blood in the United States has long been tested for HIV (since 1985) and is considered very safe. Also, if a pregnant woman knows she is HIV-positive, her medical team can now take special steps to help prevent her baby from becoming infected.
Consistent and correct use of the male latex condom reduces the risk of sexually transmitted disease (STI) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission. However, condom use cannot provide absolute protection against any STI.
Epidemiologic studies that compare rates of HIV infection between condom users and nonusers who have HIV-infected sex partners demonstrate that consistent condom use is highly effective in preventing transmission of HIV. Similarly, epidemiologic studies have shown that condom use reduces the risk of many other STIs. However, the exact magnitude of protection has been difficult to quantify because of numerous methodological challenges inherent in studying private behaviors that cannot be directly observed or measured.
Theoretical and empirical basis for protection
Condoms can be expected to provide different levels of protection for various STIs, depending on differences in how the diseases or infections are transmitted. Male condoms may not cover all infected areas or areas that could become infected. Thus, they are likely to provide greater protection against STIs that are transmitted only by genital fluids (STIs such as gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomoniasis, and HIV infection) than against infections that are transmitted primarily by skin-to-skin contact, which may or may not infect areas covered by a condom (STIs such as genital herpes, human papillomavirus [HPV] infection, syphilis, and chancroid).
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.